I have been thinking about team building – particularly in the context of relationships. I am always encouraging couples to be a team, but what am I really asking of them? Am I asking for agreement, holding the same opinions and conclusions on issues? What does it take to build a great team?
When my business partners got together to make decisions we didn’t always have the same perspective. We didn’t want to allocate money, resolve employee conflicts, or support vendors in the same way. But we got along really well. We lasted 27 years as associates with a pretty minimal amount of conflict and then dissolved our business with equanimity.
A functional team is cooperative, not contentious. All it takes is one hostile person to subvert progress. Disagreement is not hostility, it’s simply a different viewpoint. And a good team looks for diverse ways to approach situations. It’s actually what brings strength and innovation. But what makes the difference is in the presentation of opposing ideas.
Cooperative people would say:
“Have you thought about….” or “Could it be more effective if we……” or “Is it possible that we might try….” Or “I’m seeing things in another way”
They tend to listen and validate the person even if they disagree with the perspective.
Contentious people might say:
“You’re just wrong” or “That’s a stupid idea” or “How could you even think…..”
They also tend to bring anger, blame, contempt or even disgust to discussions.
When couples function as a team they attack problems, but not each other. There may be elevated emotions, but they don’t lose sight of solving the issue as their goal. They remain friends in the process.
Churches are teams. Life groups (small groups) are teams. Corporate staffs are teams. Any group of people joined together to perform a task, reach a goal or build relationships are a team. When dealing with a volatile person, it’s helpful to know that their volatility or hostility may be a blind spot. What they feel is “normal” communication may appear to you or others as highly argumentative and oppositional. If they are able to receive constructive criticism you may win over a strong supporter. If not, you may need to either bring in a third party to help, or discontinue the relationship. That position is Biblical.
(Matthew 18:15-17) “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.
What if you suspect you are the difficult person? It never hurts to check it out with a wise, safe person. Then go to those you may have offended, in humility, and ask forgiveness. It really works wonders.
I’d also recommend watching this video clip from Henry Cloud when learning discernment about self or others: The Wise, The Foolish and The Evil
Drop us a line if you have any questions.